Last weekend, I made a purchase that I'm pretty sure will change the way I serve cheese forever.
I happened upon it at the outdoor Chelsea flea market in Manhattan: a stained, table-less marble tabletop. Looking back, I can't imagine why, but I actually contemplated whether or not to buy it. It was stained and dirty, and I was more than a handful of subway stops away from home.
But then my mind wandered to cheese. And cured meats. And honey and figs and grapes and nuts and all the delicious serve-this-on-the-side things for cheese. This tabletop, surely, could fit all of it, and then some. Truly, this could be the ultimate cheese platter.
And it was $10.
With it, I can present cheese grandly, whether it's for a small or large group. Somehow, I feel that putting cheese on such a dramatic piece will give it the spotlight it deserves.
So yes, perhaps it's oversized. And yes, perhaps now my dinner plates will only narrowly fit onto my dining table, since the board now lives there permanently. But I decided that it would make a stable cheese fixture, in the center of my dining life. In reality, it's a a table on a table.
This isn't done quite enough: treat a huge surface as you would an actual platter. I have another marble-topped table and have always resisted the impulse to do just this— turn it into an oversized cheese board— because I thought it would look odd. Sure, I may put smaller dishes on top, for olives or jams or nuts, perhaps, but I like that this really feels table-like, and makes me wonder if anyone just treats their tables like platters, setting things directly atop?
I can't imagine that this would be a hard item to replicate. Source an oversized piece of marble—I saw more than one last weekend— the more worn, the better price— and turn any cheese display grand. Just like that.
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and recipe developer in New York.
Related: Slate Cheese Boards
(Image: Nora Singley)